Poll: Republicans think higher education is hurting the country

There’s nothing wrong with this country that a little less fancy book learnin’ won’t cure.

A new poll from Pew Research shows the assault on the idea of higher education has finally connected with Republicans, who viewed it favorably just two years ago.

But now? Fifty-eight percent of Republicans surveyed say colleges and universities “are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country.” Only about a third say they have a positive effect.

It’s the first time since Pew started asking the question in 2010 that the majority of Republicans thought the institutions were a bad thing.

The decline was most pronounced among 18-to-49-year-old Republicans, Pew said.

Younger Republicans continue to express more positive views of colleges than do older Republicans. But the share of Republicans under 50 who view colleges positively has fallen 21 points since 2015 (from 65% to 44%), while declining 15 points among those 50 and older (43% to 28%).

Since 2015, positive views of colleges and universities have fallen 11 points among Republicans with a college degree or more education (from 44% to 33%) and 20 points among those who do not have a college degree (57% to 37%). There also have been double-digit declines in the share of conservative Republicans (from 48% to 29%) and moderate and liberal Republicans (from 62% to 50%) who say colleges have a positive effect on the country.

Curiously, the poorest Republicans — households under $30,000 a year — have a much more positive view of higher education than those in higher incomes. That’s opposite the breakdown among Democrats in the survey. The poorest Democratic households are the ones who hold the least favorable view of colleges and universities.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • crystals

    My father-in-law just made a comment this weekend about how colleges and universities have become so intolerant, that college students these days are unable to handle different ideas than their own, etc. etc. etc.

    I wanted to ask, but didn’t, when he was last on a college campus and therefore how exactly he knows this to be true. I need to work on knowing when to push (and also knowing when it’s okay not to). Family peace is important, but so are facts.

    • fizziks

      Perhaps he was referencing the many recent notorious episodes of violent campus student temper tantrums when confronted with ideas slightly different than their own.

      See the Evergreen State College “students” who have driven a professor and his wife off of campus, the Yale students who did the same, the Middlebury students who put a professor in the hospital for daring to attempt to have a civil conversation with Charles Murray, the Berkeley students who rioted and smashed windows because Anne Coulter was going to speak off campus, and that is all just from the past few months.

      • crystals

        What percentage of colleges/universities do you think these examples entail? And what percentage of students at these colleges/universities are actually even involved in these incidents? My concern is using a very small number of hyper publicized examples to declare truths about an entire system, and your comment hasn’t done anything to change that concern.

  • jon

    Yup, all that higher education is just making people dumb and liberal… looking for facts to help form opinions rather than making up “facts” to support their support their pre-existing opinions.

  • Kassie

    So they will stop sending their kids to college, right?

    • Jerry

      Only to their safe-space colleges

      • To be fair, Trump U isn’t around anymore…

        • Craig P

          But Oral Roberts University still is…

  • AmiSchwab

    keep em dumb and in the coal mines where we can control them.

  • Joshua

    I see a lot of comments that are disparaging of those who see college as not worth it, with little question of why they may hold that view.

    I highly recommend that people look up the moral/evolutionary psychologist Jonathan Haidt, and more specifically his book The Righteous Mind. You can also look to the group Heterodox academy that he co-founded.

    • Kris Sladek

      Each member of Heterodox Academy endorses the statement:
      “I believe that university life requires that people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives encounter each other in an environment where they feel free to speak up and challenge each other. I am concerned that many academic fields and universities currently lack sufficient viewpoint diversity—particularly political diversity. I will support viewpoint diversity in my academic field, my university, my department, and my classroom.” Sounds to me like they have their own political agenda.

  • Didn’t they have a choice?

  • Unemployment among veterans is , I THINK, higher than the general population. That sort of negates the marketing of joining the military and I think maybe that’s gotten around.

  • It’s true, veterans preference is quite helpful for a government job and a carer in the military is fine for those who choose it but when you read about so many families of active duty veterans on SNAP, it just doesn’t appeal to a lot of people.

    A lot this, of course, is a Mike Rowe essay waiting to happen. He doesn’t think people should be chasing passion; they should be chasing jobs. Maybe; maybe not. And I think it’s true that college isn’t for everybody but I think it probably is for a lot of people. I know in my industry, you’re not going to end up in it without a college degree and you’re probably not going to be able to move from the military to it either in most cases.

    It’s had for young people now because they’ve got to train for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet at the pace that automation is replacing traditional work.

    I wouldn’t be a kid today for anything.

    • AL287

      A robot cannot fix a leaky pipe or a backed up toilet, pull electrical wire through conduit and install a fuse box or frame a house. Robots cannot install roofs or put on siding and install replacement windows. They also cannot repair cars, even total electric cars. The brakes and the tires and drive belts still need replacing.

      Plumber, electrician and construction worker are jobs that will always require manpower and they are jobs that do not require a four year degree.

      Like farming, construction jobs tend to be seasonal, at least in the northern tier states but they pay well enough to survive in the lean months.

      Republicans are partly correct in that not all jobs need a 4-year, college degree. However, that being said, I’ve seen customer service jobs where a bachelor degree is preferred.

      In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Eliminate the well-educated, college grad and you can govern without opposition because most of the population won’t have the smarts any longer to question what you are doing.

      Hey…wait a minute. Isn’t that how dictators remain in power?


      • // A robot cannot fix a leaky pipe or a backed up toilet, pull electrical wire through conduit and install a fuse box or frame a house. Robots cannot install roofs or put on siding and install replacement windows.

        Nope. Not yet.

  • kevins

    How is that?

  • kevins

    I was thinking about you idea of “control”. In debt implies (the government) controls you. You seem to give no shrift to choice in borrowing money. Sounds like you were there.

  • kevins

    Me too (64 and debt free: got drafted in the ’71 cohort). Interesting idea that no debt equals freedom. There are many means of bondage and many paths to the top of the mountain. My kids went to college, paid their bills and speak for themselves, but hate war, resent liars like the current Prez. and take care of others around them. Free.

  • kevins

    Be well. Lots of resentment these days, eh?

    • asiljoy

      Debt means you’re limited to the jobs you can take, especially when you need healthcare coverage. I have a good job, but they’re golden handcuffs I can’t take off until those student loans are paid.

      I’m a lucky one. I have friends who work with kids or do social work that will never get off the hamster wheel because for whatever reason society has decided those positions aren’t valued enough to pay them a living wage, but require 4 year degrees and certificates. So they work second jobs, will buy homes never, and only live near public transportation so they don’t have to worry the unexpected expenses that come with cars.

  • I wonder how many there are.

  • Antonio Len-Rios

    I think this is a reaction to post-modernism which has proliferated in centers of higher learning. But if something valuable isn’t working well you don’t throw it out, you fix it.

  • lindblomeagles

    Every now and then we Americans inject TOO much politics into our daily transgressions. College is one of those things. It’s highly improbable higher education hurts the country because higher education encourages students to think, dream, and plan. THINK of solutions to complex problems like what to do about Medicare and jobs in coal country. DREAM of becoming a lawyer, a Republican Governor perhaps, or a Foreign Correspondent to Russia. And PLAN on making an income that helps your family and reduces dependency on government programs and safety nets. All of this can be accomplished EVEN if you attend a liberal leaning college. It’s not about what you do at college that matters. It’s what you do when you leave college that makes all the difference in the world.

  • jimrussell

    The more ignorant the more you believe you know. Republicans opposition to education is being against what is the real American exceptionalism. Republican fear of education and knowledge is an incredibly stunning admission, tantamount to treachery. It is the definition of uneducated ignorance, that is more of a national threat than any competing world adversary, competitor, or political philosophy.

  • are there no educated republicans?

  • // education is mostly the realm of liberal democrats

    So is education a good thing or a bad thing?

  • jimrussell

    Read everyone and understand why the contempt is in fact justified. America didn’t get to #1 based on ignorance but in spite of it.

  • Aren’t you kind of playing into the stereotype that Mike Rowe has spent so much time trying to dispel… that dirty work is the work of the uneducated?

    I would also suggest that being ignorant and being uneducated are not the same thing.

    I also would use “undereducated” rather than “uneducated”.

  • “Stupid” and “ignorance” are like “pornography”

  • Right, but what you DO and who you ARE aren’t the same thing. Not having a special skill at what you do for a living doesn’t really have anything to do with intelligence or education.

  • Why do people smoke when they know it’ll likely give them a horrible death. The self destructive ways for a momentary pleasure.

  • jimrussell

    No one is successful in life or work without the education of experience gained from a teacher, be it a parent or person experienced in a specific task. However, a grade school education teaching the ability to read, write, arithmetic makes the only experienced worker more useful, productive and thus a higher wage earner. A high school education expands all those strengths. And college and advanced degrees expands those strengths even further. Yes you need someone to teach you to be a jack hammer operator, an honorable job, but you can make far more of a contribution gaining an advanced degree being an architect. Not a Democrat or Republican architect but a well educated architect. However, most of which in fact are Democrat’s, like most people with advanced degrees, wonder why? Belief their university education was liberal or because being more knowledgeable, has made them more prepared and unafraid of adapting to the future?

  • jimrussell

    You haven’t noticed on these forums civility and tolerance are not Republican traits.

  • jimrussell

    No need to call Republicans that I’m sure they know. I use to call them ignorant bigoted Aholes occasionally, but their reply’s confirmed to me they already knew that.